UGC Regulations 2023: Internationalising Higher Education
New guidelines aim to transform India into a global study destination and ensure quality education for students
Congruent with the recommendations of the National Education Policy (NEP), 2020, the University Grants Commission (UGC) initiated measures earlier this year to encourage internationalisation of higher education in the nation. The regulatory framework aims to facilitate the entry of higher-ranked foreign Universities that will provide an international dimension to higher education to enable Indian students to obtain foreign qualifications at affordable cost. Furthermore, it attempts to make India an attractive education hub and global study destination for students of neighboring countries.
In 2021, UGC had notified the guidelines on the Internationalisation of Higher Education in India. It had included the stipulations like setting up an office for international affairs and Alumni Connect Cell in the Universities. In the Gazette of May 2022, provisions to enable academic collaboration between Indian Higher Educational Institutions (HEIs) and foreign HEIs to offer Twinning, Joint Degree and Dual Degree Programmes were listed.
NEP 2020 has stipulated that 'Top universities in the world will be facilitated to operate in India'. To quote, “A legislative framework facilitating such entry will be put in place, and such universities will be given special dispensation regarding regulatory, governance and content norms on par with other autonomous institutions of India.”
Referred to as the University Grants Commission (setting up and operation of campuses of Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in India) Regulations, 2023 the updated and enhanced conditions are aimed at regulating the entry and operations of foreign universities/ institutions in India with detailed stipulations. Now, FHEI will be empowered to conduct undergraduate, postgraduate, doctoral, post-doctoral & other programmes and they will also award degrees, diplomas and certificates in various disciplines according to the new document.
Globally, there are scores of FHEI. However, the UGC Regulations 2023 have spelled out what would qualify as 'Foreign Educational Institution' for higher learning in India. Essentially, it shall mean an educational institution in a foreign country that is duly recognised and established or incorporated in a legal manner in the parent country. 'Foreign Higher Educational Institutions' shall include both foreign universities and foreign educational institutions as per conditions laid down by UGC.
There is a strict mandate that no Foreign Higher Educational Institutions (FHEIs) is eligible to set up campuses in India without the approval of the UGC.
As a foreign university, the applicant should have secured a position within the top 500 of overall/subject-wise global rankings, as decided by the Commission from time to time. If it is a foreign educational institution, the applicant should be a reputed institution in its home country.
Furthermore, the quality of education imparted to students in the Indian campus should be at par with that of the main campus in the country of origin. The qualifications awarded on successful completion of a certain degree/diploma in the Indian campus should be recognised and treated as equivalent to corresponding qualifications of the Foreign Higher Educational Institutions in its main campus located in the country of origin for all purposes, including higher education and employment.
The FHEI shall not operate contrary to the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States, public order, decency or morality. It needs to abide by any other condition (s) prescribed by the Commission and the Government of India from time to time. All activities shall be in accordance with the applicant FHEI’s mission, vision and objectives. The Foreign Higher Educational Institutions shall not act as a representative office of the parent entity to undertake promotional activities for their programmes in their home jurisdiction or any other jurisdiction outside India. It shall undergo a quality assurance audit and submit the report to the commission at the time of an extension.
There are clear conditions mentioned to safeguard the interests of the students. The institution cannot discontinue any course or programme without the commission’s prior approval. The same goes for the closure of a certain campus. In case there is a disruption of a particular course or programme or an unavoidable discontinuation, the FHEI shall be responsible for providing an alternative to the affected students. The entity will also have an established mechanism to address students’ grievances. There is a provision for the students to appeal to the cw२ommission if they are not satisfied with the redressal of their grievances.
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The author is Co Chairperson, Techno India Group
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